Monday, October 30, 2023

The deer on my morning walks are not at all impressed by me

I spend so much of my morning walks this time of year worrying about skunks that I sometimes forget about the deer.

Deer are very common where I live (they may be common where you live, too). This is a significant change from my years growing up in a suburban neighborhood with closely packed houses. Back then, deer sightings were real events. I remember deer roaming onto our street maybe three times during the 22 years I lived there.

Now, with the deer population in Northeast Ohio generally rising, and with us living in a somewhat more rural (though still decidedly suburban) area, deer are as common as dogs. Or at least it seems that way.

Being out on the road walking/jogging five mornings a week, I come across the various deer families in our neighborhood quite often, especially in the fall.

I see them in the spring and summer, too, but for whatever reason they seem more prevalent in October and November. On one recent morning I came across four different groups/families during my 2.3-mile jaunt.

Their fur is darker this time of year, and I never knew why until I just looked it up. Apparently the darker coat helps them better absorb the warmth of the sun ("solar gain") during a season when sunlight becomes a decidedly iffy proposition around here.

The males also have antlers now, of course. And while I've never had one act aggressively in any way toward me, I give those spiky-headed bucks a wider berth.

For their part, the deer react to me in one of two ways. They're either skittish and run away at the first sign of me. Or, more commonly, they eye me warily but stand their ground as I pass by.

Some seem genuinely interested in figuring out exactly what I am, but mostly I'm just a momentary distraction. As long as I'm not a threat  and it usually takes them about three seconds to realize I'm not  they don't care about me that much.

Which I suppose is the way of things.

I would happily pet them if they would let me, but they have no real interest in coming closer...even the ones who aren't scared of me.

So I confine my animal petting to our two cats, Ginny and Molly. To their credit, those girls do appreciate me, maybe because I'm the one who provides them fresh food and water every day, as well as being someone who is always willing to give them a scratch behind the ears.

It helps that neither has antlers. The power dynamic in our house would change noticeably if they did.

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